Sophomore Ristine Olson has become a major contributor to the success of the Texas women's tennis team, which is second in the Big 12 Conference standings with a 7-1 record. The native of Missoula, Mont., holds down the No. 6 spot in the singles lineup and has tallied a 15-3 record in duals and is a perfect 7-0 in conference matches.
Olson recently took time to talk about dance parties in the locker room, learning to play the guitar and her love for "The Lion King."
There are only three matches remaining in the regular season with the Big 12 and NCAA Championships right around the corner. Looking back, how do you think the team has done so far?
Ristine Olson: I think we've done really well this season. As a whole, this team feels really strong and confident. We've had a few ups and downs, and there have been certain matches where we thought we could have pulled off the win. But, when it comes right down to it, the entire team is working as hard as we should be right now. We all have confidence in what we can do and we're looking forward to the rest of our season. We think it will be some of our best tennis.
Last year, you went undefeated (10-0) in conference action during the regular season and this year, are continuing on that same path. Was that a goal you set for yourself?
RO: Not really. I honestly don't even think about it. I just try to approach every match the same and go out and get a win every time.
How have you changed since last year?
RO: As a freshman, you kind of look to others for guidance because everything is new to you. Even after one year, I have experienced a lot and know how to adapt to any type of situation. For instance, if the outcome of the match is going to be decided on my court, I am now less nervous and I better understand that my team is depending on me to step up.
Do you ever know when the outcome of the match is going to be decided on your court?
RO: Sometimes, but the coaches usually try not to tell us. You can definitely feel the energy, though, and you can sense what's going on, especially when you see the rest of your team off to the side watching your match. Sometimes I'll ask the coaches or one of my teammates because I personally think it's better to know.
The team trains a lot on the court, but a lot of your training is also done in the weight room. Talk about how that training improves your game.
RO: Our work in the weight room is one thing we have stepped up this year and it has turned out to be a good thing. The fall was really hard because we did things like run stadiums and ramps. During the season, we focus on cardio, abs, footwork and agility drills. We also do some light lifting. It is hard work, but you can tell that it pays off when you're in a long three-set match and not struggling.
This a close team that has certainly had a lot of good times together. Is there something particularly funny that has happened this season?
RO: I really don't know. There was one time when we were waiting on a decision to be made on whether or not to we would play our match against Florida because of the bad weather. We were waiting in the locker room for hours and ended up turning on the CD player and just had a big dance party. It was hilarious! The match ended up being cancelled, but we all had a good time.
How are your classes this semester?
RO: My classes are going pretty well. I'm taking 15 hours this semester and it's really hard during the season to plan homework and study and travel, but you have to learn how to manage your time.
Are you taking any fun classes like your teammate Mia Marovic, who is taking piano?
RO: I am actually taking a music class. I'm studying elementary education and this class teaches us how to teach instruments to kids. We learned to play the recorder and piano, and now we're learning guitar. I had to memorize "Lean on Me" and then play it in front of the class while singing along. It's kind of scary to have to perform because I am so bad, but it really is fun. I now have a greater respect for guitar players because the guitar is a hard instrument to play. I've learned only four chords and still can't get them down.
Do you ever have any time off during the season?
RO: We did have some time off a couple weeks ago and were able to check out the Texas Relays. When I do get time off, some of my teammates and I love to go shopping. We could spend hours at the mall. I also enjoy going to the movies and just hanging out.
Do you have an all-time favorite movie?
RO: The Lion King is probably my all-time favorite. I love anything Disney.
There is still a lot of tennis to be played, but have you thought about your plans for the summer?
RO: My plans for the summer are to stay here, take summer school classes the first session and work the Longhorn Tennis Camp. I'll probably take classes in the morning and then train before I coach camp in the afternoon.
Is coaching something you look forward to possible doing in the future?
RO: Possibly. I love the idea of teaching kids, but I don't really know what I want to do yet.